Minnesota Chippewa Tribe - Leech Lake Band - Tribal Code
Title 3. Child and Family Protection
LLOjibwe JCT3 CFC § 3-25
A. Open Adoptions
Adoptions under this Code shall be in the nature of “Open Adoptions.” The purpose of such open adoptions is not to permanently deprive the child of connections to, or knowledge of, the child's natural family. The purpose of adoptions shall be to give the adoptive child a permanent home. To this the following shall apply and be contained in all adoptive orders and decrees:
1. The adoptive parents and adoptive child shall be treated under the law as if the relationship was that of a natural child and parent, except as set forth herein.
2. The adoptive child shall have an absolute right, absent a convincing and compelling reason to the contrary, to information and knowledge about his natural family and his tribal heritage.
3. The adoptive child and members of the child's natural extended family (including parents) shall have a right of reasonable visitation with each other, subject to reasonable controls of the adoptive parents.
4. Adoption shall not serve to prevent an adoptive child from inheriting from a natural parent in the same manner as any other natural child. The natural parents shall not be entitled to inherit from an adoptive child in the same manner as parents would otherwise be entitled to inherit. An adoptive child shall be entitled to inherit from adoptive parents, and vice versa, in the same manner as if natural parents and child.
B. Consent to Adoption
1. When not required: Written consent to an adoption is not required if:
a. The parent has abandoned his child;
b. The parent's rights have been terminated;
c. The parent has relinquished his parental rights;
d. The parent has been declared incompetent.
2. When required: Written consent to an adoption is required of:
a. The biological or adoptive mother;
b. The biological, adoptive, or acknowledged father;
c. The custodian, if empowered to consent;
d. The child, if he is over twelve (12) years of age.
C. Execution of Consent to Adopt
Written consent to an adoption shall be executed and acknowledged before the Court. Consent shall not be accepted or acknowledged by the Court prior to thirty (30) days after birth of the child. Consents of a child over the age of twelve (12) years shall be made orally either in open court, or in chambers with only the judge and any other person(s) she/he deems necessary, and the child present.
D. Who May File an Adoption Petition
Any person may file a petition for adoption. The petition shall be initiated by the person proposing to adopt. In the case of married persons maintaining a home together, the petition shall be the joint petition of husband and wife, except that if one of the spouses is the natural or adopted parent of the proposed adoptee, said parent shall not be required to join in the petition.
E. Contents of Adoption Petition
The petition for adoption shall include the following, to the best information and belief of the petitioner:
1. The full name, address, and tribal affiliation of the petitioner;
2. The full name, sex, residence, date and place of birth, and tribal affiliation of the proposed adoptee;
3. The name by which the proposed adoptee shall be known if the petition is granted;
4. The basis for the Court's jurisdiction;
5. If the proposed adoptee is a child, a full description and statement of value of all property owned, possessed or in which the child has an interest;
6. The relationship of the petitioner to the proposed adoptee; and
7. The names and addresses of any person or agency whose consent to adoption is necessary.
Where there is more than one proposed adoptee, and these proposed adoptees are siblings, only one petition shall be required for the adoption of all or any combination of the siblings, provided that each sibling proposed to be adopted be named in the petition.
All petitions must be signed and dated by the petitioner, and must be notarized or witnessed by the Court Administrator.
Notice shall be provided in accordance with the notice procedures set forth in Section 3-24F of this Code except that the Court may determine that it is unnecessary to give notice to specific individuals, including a parent whose parental rights have been terminated.
G. Home Studies
When a petition for the adoption of a child is filed with the Court, the Court shall immediately request that the social services department or other qualified agency conduct a home study on the petitioner and report on the child. The home study and report shall relate the circumstance of the home, the petitioner and his ability, both physical and mental, to assume the responsibilities of a parent of the child. The home study shall contain other pertinent information designed to assist the Court in determining the best placement for the child. The home study will also address the issue of whether or not the home most closely resembles that of the child's culture, identify, and where applicable, his tribal affiliation. The home study or report shall not be required where the proposed adoptee is an adult.
No determination can be made on a petition for adoption until the home study and report has been completed and submitted to and considered by the Court. The home study shall be submitted to the Court no later than ten (10) days before the hearing. The home study and report may be consolidated into one document. The Court may order additional home studies or reports as it deems necessary.
H. Withdrawal of Consents
Any consent given under the provisions of this chapter may be withdrawn by the person or agency which gave the consent at any time prior to the entry of a final decree of adoption. No reason need be stated and no hearing need be held on such withdrawal.
All withdrawals must be in writing and notarized or witnessed by the Court Administrator, with the original being filed with the Court.
Within two (2) years after the entry of a decree of adoption, said decree may be vacated upon a petition being filed and a showing that the consent which made the adoption possible was obtained through fraud or duress. Upon such a showing the Court shall vacate the decree and return the adopted person to that status he had prior to entry of the decree.
I. Adoption Preferences
The preference of placement in adoption shall be in the following order unless the Court determines that the child's best interests require deviation from the preferences:
1. Extended family member;
2. A member or person eligible for membership in the child's band or tribe.
3. Other Indian person(s).
4. A person who has had a nurturing relationship with the child.
5. If this order of preference cannot be met, then placement may be made with any person who has some knowledge of the child's tribal affiliation and his special needs.
J. Hearing Procedures
An adoption hearing shall be held within ninety (90) days of receipt of an adoption petition for the prospective parent(s). The Court shall conduct the hearing to determine if it is in the best interests of the child to be placed with the petitioners. In determining the best interests of the child, the Court shall examine:
1. Validity of written consent;
2. Termination of parental rights order;
3. Length of time of the child's ward ship by the Court;
4. Special conditions of the child;
5. Parent communication with this child;
6. Minor's consent to adoption, if he is over twelve (12) years of age;
7. Home studies or other reports, and;
8. Order of preference of placement.
The petitioner and the proposed adoptee shall appear personally at the hearing. During the hearing the Court shall advise the party(s) of their basic rights as provided in Chapter 3-12 of this Code. The judge shall examine all persons separately, and may, if satisfied that all other requirements of this chapter have been met, enter a final decree of adoption, or may place the person to be adopted, if a child, in the legal custody of the petition for a period not to exceed six (6) months prior to entering a final decree of adoption.
If the Court is satisfied that the adoption will not be in the child's best interest, or finds that all of the requirements of this chapter have not been met, it may deny the petition and make any other order it deems necessary for the care and custody of the child not inconsistent with this Code.
Proceedings for termination of the parent-child relationship and proceedings for adoption may be consolidated and determined at one (1) hearing provided that all the requirements of this chapter as well as the provisions of this Code governing termination are compiled with fully.
The hearing shall be informal in nature. Concerned parties may present evidence relating to the situation. Hearsay evidence will not be excluded from the proceedings. Only the parties, their counsel, witnesses, the child's extended family and other persons determined to be appropriate by the Court shall be admitted
K. Adoption Decree
If the Court finds that the requirements of this chapter have been met and that the child's best interests will be satisfied, a final decree of adoption may be entered.
A person, when adopted, may take the name of the person adopting, and the two shall thenceforth sustain toward each other the legal relation of parent and child, and shall have all the rights and shall be subject to all the duties of that relation, including all of the rights of a child of the whole blood to inherit from any person, in all respects, under the provisions of inheritance and succession of the code.
Resolution No. 03-62, presented and acted upon on December 23, 2002.
Leech Lake Ojibwe Jud. Code, T. 3, Child & Fam. Protect. Code § 3-25, LLOjibwe JCT3 CFC § 3-25